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Big Funny



Big Funny #1

Oh sure, I could shrink that image down and make this page nice and pretty.  I choose not to because this comic is so vast that you need some visual representation, and it also serves as a handy explanation for why there are no samples from individual strips: this thing is too damned big for it.  This is a collection of newspaper-style comics, done in a newspaper-style format, with one notable exception: these are actually funny.  Kudos to these people (who are, it should be mentioned, mostly from Minnesota, or at least the planners seem to be) for being the first to send me a comic in a poster tube, or whatever those things are really called.  There’s a huge variety of strips in here, from parodies of early newspaper strips to “where are they now” versions of those strips to what appears to be honest homages to those strips.  Then there are a very few autobio strips, some gag strips (again, which are almost all funny), and one particularly memorable example of breaking the fourth wall.  Contributors include (but are not limited to, as this is 48 pages) Ryan Dow, Henry Chamberlain, Paul Fricke, Kevin McCarthy, D.C. McNamara, David Sandberg, Steve Mason, Stephanie Mannheim and Jenny Schmid, to pick a few names randomly.  Leaving aside the comics for just a second, I also enjoyed the actual newspaper articles, such as the one where they discussed who exactly killed the print medium, and they also did a great job with the classified ads in the back.  Highlights include (but are in no way limited to) Jesse Gillespie’s Little Emo in Slumbaland, Daniel Olson’s circular strip Hey Rube, Kevin Cannon’s Army Men (the second comic I’ve read today to mention an ankylosaurus), Kirk Anderson’s Banana Republic (about keeping torture light), Andy Singer’s strip about wealth redistribution called Middle Management, Madeline Queripel’s brilliant strip about how the old serials would just use the last panel of the previous strip as the first panel of the new strip to keep readers caught up, Kevin McCarthy’s creepy funnies (apparently breaking the rules of good taste for the strip, but it was worth it), and a good old fashioned donnybrook by Lonny Unitus.  I put a “#1” next to the title more because I’d like to see more of these than anything else.  It’s a remarkable achievement, and if anybody is going to be in Minneapolis on August 7th you should click that website for details on picking up a copy.  If you get one there, it’s a measly $5 for this beast.  If not you’ll have to pay for shipping, which just about doubles the price, but this thing is utterly unique in the comics world and worth the expense.  I’m old enough to remember pulling the funnies out of the Sunday paper, spreading them out on the ground, laying down to read them and have them actually be funny.  Of course, it’s possible I only thought they were funny because I was a kid, but thanks to them for giving me a good reason to relive that experience.  I didn’t even know I was missing it.  $5

Various Good Minnesotans – Good Minnesotan #3



Good Minnesotan #3

These people just keep improving the design scheme of these anthologies. This one can go right on your bookshelf, what with the spine and all.  If they keep this up #4 is going to have one of those gold-embossed covers that the big companies were using for a few years back when I cared about such things.  How about the contents?  I’d say this is their strongest issue yet, or at least certainly their most consistent.  Not a bad story in the bunch.  I should note that all these stories have brief bios of the creators before the stories as well as contact info and your best place to get all that is either through their website or by buying the book, as I’m far too lazy to list all that stuff here.  Noah Harmon has a piece about a squid trying to communicate an idea, Toby Jones details his ethical and practical struggle with mice, Madeline Queripel sums up a courtship in one page, Meghan Hogan has the start of a graphic novel about great horned owls (and she might want to avoid dark text against a dark background, but other than that it was fascinating), Justin Skarhus & Raighne Hogan tell the tale of a day of vari0us inescapable sexcapades, Ed Moorman details a year of firsts in one night, Abigail Mullen wants a small house, Anna Bonguivanni eats a baby (and wins the prize for the most gorgeous artwork in the book), Reynold Kissling helps demonstrate why even starting a relationship is so difficult, and Danno Klonowski has a stream of true nonsense from the local crazy person.  I left two stories out, mostly because they could have been comics in their own right.  John & Luke Holden spell out an utterly directionless life just about as well as I’ve ever seen, as a total lump of a man loses his last job and wanders around trying to barely not be homeless, and Nicholas Breutzman shows us the ongoing war between desperate meth addicts and people who live in secluded homes.  This is the best work yet from pretty much everybody listed (that I’ve seen anyway, as a few of them have some pretty extensive credits listed before this book) and it does an excellent job of keeping the reader engaged for its 100+ pages.  Send them some money and/or start thinking about beginning one of these anthologies in your own neck of the woods, why don’t you? $12


Moorman, Ed Choy (editor) – Ghost Comics



Ghost Comics (edited by Ed Choy Moorman)

Sometimes I make these reviews overly complicated, and I probably will with this one too, so I wanted to sum it up simply: this is a collection of different takes on ghost stories from some of the best small press cartoonists around.  Ta-da!  What more do you need to know?  There are all kinds of highlights to choose from, and somehow there’s not a stinker in the bunch.  That’s a rare thing with anthologies, but Ed has put together quite a cast here.  Things start off strong with Hob’s tale of a dinosaur ghost witnessing everything that follows its death and the eventual destruction of the earth.  From there Jeffrey Brown talks about making a fool of himself to a member of a band he likes, Corinne Mucha implies that the “ghosts” in her dorm were really just an excuse to get people to sleep together for protection, Maris Wicks goes into detail about the creepy and non-creepy aspects of living with a ghost as a kid, Madleine Queripel relates the reality of trying to scatter ashes, Toby Jones (professional boyfriend) goes into how useless he is when confronted with death, Lucy Knisley visits an old school she attended briefly and is shocked by the sheer number of ghosts still around, Allison Cole finds a practical way to rid herself of ghosts, Evan Palmer tells the tale of a knight misguidedly trying to win love, and Jessica McLeod warns of the dangers of ghost tomatoes.  Then there’s my favorite (among many “favorite”) story: Kevin Cannon’s tale of all the major landmarks of the world joining together into a Voltron-like creation to fight evil, how one member of that band is destroyed  and, as a ghost, sees a plot to destroy the world.  Any more detail than that would ruin it, but trust me, it’s a purely awesome thing.  If that still hasn’t convinced you, here’s everybody else involved: Ed Choy Moorman (duh), Aidan Koch, Mike Lowery, Sean Lynch, Sarah Morean, Jillian Schroeder, Zak Sally, Abby Mullen, Eileen Shaughnessy, Tuesday Bassen, Sarah Louise Wahrhaftig, Jenny Tondera, John Hankiewicz, Will Dinski, Mark Scott, Monica Anderson, Warren Craghead III and John Porcellino.  Topping off that pile of talent is the fact that this is a benefit anthology, with proceeds going to the RS Eden, which started off as a chemical dependency center and evolved into helping community members at need in all sorts of areas.  So it’s for a good cause, it’s packed with talent and it’s only $10.  Sounds like a no-brainer to me.  $10